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From the trailhead, located near Windy Point on McKenzie Highway 242, the trail begins by climbing steeply. The pitch moderates slightly as the trail continues through thick forest stands of mountain hemlock on the north side of the crater. The upper section of the trail gradually emerges onto open pumice slopes. The summit, 7251 feet, is a rocky outcrop which used to house a fire lookout and offers hikers outstanding views of the North Sister, Mount Washington, and the McKenzie Pass lava flows. The panorama extends west over Central Oregon to Prineville, and as far north as Mount Adams.

Black Crater is nearly in the center of the High Cascades volcanic chain, which extends from Lassen Peak on the south to Mt. Baker in the north. Volcanic activity in this chain started nearly 3 million years ago. Most of the highest peaks visible from Black Crater are less than 70,000 years old, but eruptions have continued into modern times: there have been at least 30 in the last 150 years.

The trail enters the Three Sisters Wilderness shortly after leaving the trailhead. Permits are required for both day-use and overnight travel in the Wilderness. Day-use permits are available at the trailhead, overnight permits must be obtained from a Forest Service office or commercial outlet. Bring plenty of liquids to drink because no water is available on the trail. Restrooms are available at the trailhead.

What’s around here? Location & Nearby Things to See & Do

These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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